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Martinelli magic lifts Arsenal to victory over West Ham

Nicolas Pepe’s work-rate was praised after his decisive display for Arsenal in the win over West Ham.

Freddie Ljungberg lauded Arsenal pair Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe after they helped the Gunners end a nine-match winless run at West Ham on Monday evening.

Angelo Ogbonna’s first-half header appeared to have the visitors on the verge of an even bigger crisis, but three goals in the space of nine minutes changed everything.

Interim boss Ljungberg had made the bold decision to drop Alexandre Lacazette for young Brazilian Martinelli and it paid off when the teenager equalised on the hour mark.

Record signing Nicolas Pepe then took centre stage, putting Arsenal 2-1 up six minutes later before he assisted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to wrap up the points at London Stadium.

Ljungberg said: “Gabi is a fantastic player, very, very young, but he has that energy about him and he goes and he goes.

“There is no fear and he just keeps on going. It is a pleasure to see him on the pitch and for him to get the success he did, it puts a smile on your face.

“People always ask me about Nico and I try to explain he comes from the French league and comes to the Premier League – in my opinion the best league in the world – and it’s a lot faster and a lot harder.

“He needs to adapt. People put pressure on him, but it’s not so easy and I thought what he did (against West Ham) was he worked really hard offensively and defensively.

“And he showed his quality and I’m so pleased for him. He was a big, big buy for the club and there comes pressure with that, but he will fall asleep with a smile.”

While the second half was a big positive for the Gunners, they suffered two injury blows at West Ham.

Hector Bellerin was unable to complete the warm-up, while fellow full-back Kieran Tierney had to be replaced in the 29th minute.

Interim manager Ljungberg added: “Hector had a bit of feeling in his hamstring in the warm up and I said I will not force anyone to play if they are not 100 per cent so we took him off. It was a straight swap with Ainsley (Maitland-Niles).

“Ainsley has been out in the cold for a little bit, but came in and did well so really happy and proud for him.

“Tierney, I think it was something with his shoulder, but I don’t know exactly what it is. We had to take him off and I think he is going maybe to hospital to check what it is.”

West Ham United's Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini reacts after the final whistle (Adam Davy/PA)

It was a night to forget for West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, with his side only a point above the bottom three and without a home win since September 22.

He insisted: “I am not worried about relegation, I am more worried about the last five games at home where we have had just one draw, conceding three goals in each game. I am more worried about that.

“We need to be more concentrated, consistent and solid and try to finish with more quality.”

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